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MN2302 Hovea / Sewalongs

Tips for Hand Quilting the Hovea Jacket

Tips for Hand Quilting the Hovea Jacket | Megan Nielsen Blog

Hovea is the perfect pattern to take your time with and enjoy the process of quilting. Hand quilting your Hovea jacket is so rewarding, and today I’ll be sharing with you a few tips for hand quilting your Hovea jacket or coat. After taking the UpCycle Stitches Sashiko course last year I was so excited to jump into applying what I had learnt to a garment. I hand quilted this Hovea jacket over the course of a week whilst my eldest Bunny was recovering from having our wisdom teeth removed (more on that later) and it was the perfect project for snuggling on the couch with her watching movies. Let’s go!

Basting quilt panels | Tips for Hand Quilting the Hovea Jacket

Baste and Pin

Basting and/or safety pining your quilt sandwich together is very important for a number of reasons. This will not only make sure that all your layers stay aligned, but will ensure you keep your grainline in and help you match up your quilt pattern across pattern pieces. Personally I like to do a combination of basting and pinning to reduce the amount of hand basting i need to do. I like to baste down the centre of the pattern piece along the grainline vertically. I also baste horizontally to help align my quilting pattern across pattern pieces. The base of the armscye is my favourite spot for the horizontal line of basting. I then safety pin along the edges periodically, but you can also safety pin in more places if desired.

If you’d like to read more, we cover this in much more detail in our Hovea Quilting Prep blog post .

Mark Your Quilting Pattern

Unless you are aiming for a super free flowing quilt pattern I highly recommend carefully marking out your quilt pattern before you start hand sewing. It’s much easier to sew a little wonky when you are hand quilting because you aren’t necessarily going to be sitting perfectly flat at a table, and don’t have the guides of your sewing machine.

You can use a number of tools to mark your quilt pattern, such as chalk, disappearing pen etc but my very favourite is a Hera Marker. I couldn’t find mine when I was working on this jacket so instead I used my bone folder as a proxy, and guess what – it worked great! You could also use other blunt objects like the back of a butter knife. I was really impressed with how well these markings held up. I literally folded up and shoved these panels into my bag over and over again and I never lost track of my lines and didn’t have to refresh them. Highly recommend!

For more in-depth tips and ideas for creating your own quilting pattern check out our Hovea Quilting Design Planning blog post.

Wide Quilting Pattern | Tips for Hand Quilting the Hovea JacketBreak quilting in half | Tips for Hand Quilting the Hovea JacketFinal Narrow quilting rows | Tips for Hand Quilting the Hovea Jacket

Have Reasonable Expectations & Start small

The very first time I tried hand quilting I declared that I would never hand quilt ever again. It took me 6 years to try again, and this time I used different materials and planned carefully to avoid burning out. In my first attempt at hand quilting I wanted very tightly spaced rows of hand quilting, and started tight. Then I lost steam, and had began widening my spacing, and now that quilt has very bizarre spacing.

I recommend starting with a wide spacing for you quilting rows. Once you have sewn all rows, break that width in half and sew in between in each row. If you’ve still got energy you can go tighter, breaking the gap in half again and sewing in between each row again. I started with a 2″ wide spacing on this jacket, which I then reduced to 1″ spacing after i’d conquered that on all pattern pieces, and after that I reduced to 1/2″ spacing. I’m really happy with the finished result, and doing it this way mean that i felt i had achieved something consistent and “finished” with each round. I could have stopped at any point and had a beautiful jacket. If on the other hand I had started with that 1/2″ spacing, i would inevitably have gotten overwhelmed.

Hand Sewing Thread | Tips for Hand Quilting the Hovea Jacket

Pick the Right Needle and Thread

The second mistake I made the first time I ever hand quilted was using the wrong thread. I chose “quilting cotton” from the thread display in my local sewing store. I would love for someone to explain to me how to properly use that thread, because i did not enjoy it. It was oddly rigid and didn’t sit well with my fabric, and at the same time was too thin to really be noticeable and “pop”.

I recommend choosing a nice thick thread that will show up and add visual appeal. Sashiko thread is a wonderful option – this thread is purposefully designed to use with a running stitch, and has the benefit of becoming more merged with the fabric over time and as you wash it. Sashiko thread is incredible. You can also use embroidery floss as a good option. For this project I didn’t have enough Sashiko thread on hand so i used DMC Pearl Cotton size 8 in Ecru colour way which i would really recommend as it was affordable, came in good lengths and i think really pops visually.

When it comes to the needle make sure you are using a long sturdy needle. I have tried using a regular embroidery needle for hand quilting and it was not fun. A purpose-made quilt basting needle is perfect for this and allows you to “load” up your needle with a lot of running stitches before you need to pull the needle through, and this makes the process much more efficient and enjoyable. You can also use a Sashiko needle or if you’re in a pinch, a long tapestry needle would probably work.

Use a Thimble | Tips for Hand Sewing the Hovea Jacket

Use a thimble

A thimble is a necessity for hand quilting, and will save your fingers and hands and make the whole process so much more enjoyable. When hand quilting you will use a simple running stitch, and your thimble is useful to push the needle through all the thick layers.

I used a Sashiko method of hand quilting this jacket, and so I used my much-loved Sashiko thimble, but a standard thimble as shown above is absolutely perfect as well.

Embrace Wrinkles | Tips for Hand Sewing Hovea

Embrace the Wrinkles & Imperfections

Hand quilting your jacket panels will make them much more wrinkly, antiqued and scrunchy looking. This is a good thing, it’s part of the hand sewn aesthetic and if you ask me, is really beautiful!

And don’t forget to give yourself a break! Look at the picture above – none of my stitches are the same size, many are wonky, and the there are a lot of times where my needle obviously didn’t properly go through the wrong side mushroom layer. But it’s ok – I LOVE this jacket! Embrace all the little imperfections and the wrinkles as part of the unique beauty of your garment!

If you’ve read this section and the idea of wrinkles and imperfect stitches are making you cringe, then you might prefer machine quilting your jacket!  Check out our machine quilting blog post here for some great tips!

Take your time | Tips for Hand Quilting the Hovea Jacket

Take your time

Hand quilting takes time, and you need to give yourself time to do it and to enjoy the slow nature of the task. I hand quilted the panels for this Hovea jacket over a week last year when Bunny had her wisdom teeth out. Even though she was only 12, she had an unusual situation where her wisdom teeth were preventing her molars from rupturing and had to be removed. Before her surgery I cut out all my pieces, basted them together, marked my first quilt lines and packed all my things in a bag to sew in the hospital. I spent the whole day in hospital with her and sewed the first 2″ wide hand quilt rows. She had an incredibly rough recovery and spent a week off school – so we made the best of it and watched lots of movies and ate a lot of icecream. I sewed the rest of the quilting rows whilst we snuggled on the couch together watching movies. Even though her recovery was awful, I have so many special memories of the time we spent together whilst i sewed this jacket.

Make it Reversible | Tips for Hand Quilting the Hovea Jacket Make it Reversible | Tips for Hand Quilting the Hovea Jacket

Consider making it reversible

As I was making this jacket and I was absolutely loving how good the wrong side looked as well, so I decided to make it reversible! We made a lot of reversible Hovea samples and this was the very first one that inspired them all :)

For most of our reversible samples we went for a more seamless invisible look – but for this sample I decided to make those seams stand out and fit with the rest of the hand sewn elements. I really love how it turned out, and as you can see from our photos – when you make your Hovea reversible you really do get two jackets for the price of one!

Tips for Hand Quilting the Hovea Jacket | Megan Nielsen Blog

I really hope you have found my tips for hand quilting the Hovea jacket useful! If you have any questions please let me know before! And if you are a seasoned quilter and have more great tips to share – please do! I would love to hear all of your wonderful tips and advice in the comments :)

Happy sewing my friends!

Tips for Hand Quilting the Hovea Jacket | Megan Nielsen Blog

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About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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